My initial response to this comment by Spartan on the post about Richard Spencer being harassed while trying to use his gym membership and the gym’s response of kicking him out rather than his harasser was in part:
“A very clear and well-stated exposition of an unethical point of view that many misguided people agree with…thus imperiling our pluralistic society.”
It troubles me greatly that so many intelligent Americans are thinking this way in 2017.
Here is Spartan’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Dunce: Old Town Sport And Health in Alexandria, VA. Why? Because White Nationalists Have A Right To Work Out Too”:
This guy is a public figure and he will be recognized. He chose to be in the limelight. Gym members are allowed to quit their memberships because they don’t want to work out with an asshole. Now imagine (in liberal Old Town) that 75% of the members decide to quit their memberships at this gym because they don’t want to be around him. The business will now suffer.
I used to go to this gym, and I can tell you that I would not want to be around this man. So, although I would not circulate a petition or demand that the gym expel him, I would quit my membership. And, I probably would tell all of my friends why, so I imagine many of them would quit as well. Also, keep in mind that this gym is super tiny — you are pretty much forced to interact with other members.
In this scenario, the gym might end up closing because of lack of membership. So, this is trickier than you make it out in your hypothetical. I am not obligated, as a private citizen, to be polite or even silent around odious human beings. While I do not support a gym’s decision to terminate membership based on political (although I’m being generous here) beliefs, the fact is that people can vote with their feet.
As for the bakeries, housing, and all the other examples brought up here, they just do not apply. There is nothing wrong with me privately discriminating against someone for odious, unpatriotic, conduct. In fact, I might have a duty to do that — otherwise I am normalizing or silently accepting what they are advocating. It would be ethically wrong for me, however, to privately discriminate against someone for who they are, including skin color, gender, and sexual orientation. And even with these examples, market forces still apply. White flight happened all over this country beginning in the 1950s. No one could legally force my family to stay in Detroit. Dupont Circle in Washington, DC is a known gay-friendly residential area. Private schools pop up that are gender or religion specific. Then there is the whole red state/blue state phenomenon. People are segregating themselves like never before. Apparently gyms are next on the list.